From New Hope to Hollywood: An Interview with Steve Zahn
It’s the first week of the 2018-2019 school year, and every day, the nearly 1,800 students enrolled at Cooper High School walk past the Cooper Hall of Fame, where a photo hangs of Steve Zahn, a 1986 graduate who made it big.
“Honestly, I don’t think of myself as any different as I was when I was 15 years old living in New Hope,” Zahn said. “I mean, I’m still the same guy.”
Steve Zahn is an actor whose career in film and television dates back to the early 1990s, with roles in films such as “That Thing You Do!,” “Saving Silverman,” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” among dozens of others.
But during a visit to CCX Media this week, Zahn says it all started when his family moved to the Robbinsdale School District while he was in the 7th grade.
“It started at Plymouth Junior High under Ertwin Jones Hermerding who had an improv group, and we’d go down to Dudley Riggs [Brave New Workshop] and watch their shows and basically used that as a model,” Zahn said. “And then I went to Cooper and Frank Plut was an incredible mentor. And without that exposure to quality art at that age, I definitely would not be sitting here right now. I’d be digging a hole. But digging it well.”
Lifetime Achievement Award ‘Too Heavy’
Fortunately for Zahn, he didn’t have to dig any holes because he could act well.
So well, in fact, that the Twin Cities Film Fest honored him with a lifetime achievement award this week at the Metropolitan Ballroom in Golden Valley.
Although he’d rather the award had a different name.
“They should name it something different like, ‘You did really good for a long time, dude’ award. You know what I mean? Lifetime achievement, I mean, it’s too heavy. It’s too much,” Zahn said.
Either way, it’s a career worth celebrating for his perseverance and longevity.
And for any students at Cooper hoping to follow in his footsteps, he offered a word of advice.
“Over-prepare, show up early, and don’t be a jerk,” Zahn said.
Zahn currently lives in Kentucky, but his parents still live in New Hope. He says he comes back ‘quite a bit’ to visit them.
His next project is a television miniseries that will air on the National Geographic channel called ‘Valley of the Boom.’